Bike-Sharing Programs

Bike-sharing programs differ from a simple bike rental service – bikes can be rented at one location and returned at another, unique technology is used for payment (smart cards, mobile apps), and the bike-sharing is designed to be a part of the transit system (Demaio 2010). In 2009, 78 cities in 16 countries had a bike-sharing program which with about 70,000 bikes (Midgley 2009). That same year, only two systems existed in the United States and Canada: the Montreal Bixi and the Nice Ride system in Minneapolis. By August 2009, 8,419 Bixi members around the world had travelled more than 3.6 million kilometers, or 87 times around the world, and reduced 909,053 kg of greenhouse gases. Today, the Bixi technology has spawned bike sharing programs in London, England; Washington DC; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Ottawa and Toronto, Ontario (Bixi, 2011).

While bike-sharing is a rapidly growing sector of transit, these programs are most suited to communities with particular characteristics. Midgley’s (2009) study of European bike-sharing programs concluded that these programs are best suited for cities of more than 200,000 residents. He also noted that the average implementation time was 2 years, that many stakeholders need to be involved, and a significant effort for public education on sharing the road was necessary (Midgley 2009).


Bixi (2011). Bixi by the numbers. Available from:
Demaio, Paul (2010) . 2010 year end wrap-up. The Bike-sharing blog. Available from:
Midgley, P. 2009. “The role of smart bike-sharing systems in urban mobility.” JOURNEYS 2: 23–31.


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